(1st of 3 parts)
AMID the furor triggered by the so-called Lorenzana Bill regarding a new separation, retirement and pension bill for members of the country’s uniformed services, the Philippine National Police leadership headed by Director General Oscar D. Albayalde has argued that the proposed legislative measure should follow the Constitution and well-entrenched public policies specifically the prospective application of laws.
The measure proposed by Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana has sparked debates among alarmed active and retired members of the police force who feel they would be affected by the proposal once it is passed into law. Thus, officials have sought a study on what will be the difference between their current and future pensions and retirement pays once the measure is approved.
“There are pertinent issues which need to be addressed here. Thus we have asked the PNP Directorate for Comptrollership , the PNP Directorate for Personnel and Records Management, the PNP Directorate for Plans and the Police Retirement and Benefits Administration Service to conduct a thorough study on what will be the effect of the proposed bill to the police force,” a police general told the Journal Group on condition of anonymity.
The official said many officers have reacted after reading that the proposed bill includes eliminating the automatic ‘one-rank higher’ pension pay for retiring officer, meaning a 1-star general who retires will automatically get the retirement rank of a 2-star general and its corresponding pension benefits as well as the proposal that will adjust the start of pension of retired police officers and men at the age of 60, not 56. At present, a Senior Police Officer 4 who retires will get the retirement pay of a Police Inspector, a Police Inspector that of a Senior Inspector, a Senior Inspector that of a Chief Inspector and so forth and so on.
“We all want the law to be prospective, hindi dapat paatras because this will affect everybody,” the official said. He also brushed off rumors that around 16,000 police officers and men have signified their intention to retire early as a result of the Lorenzana proposal.
“There’s no truth to that. That’s fake news. What we’re processing are regular retirement applications which is natural every month, not 16,000 retirement applications,” he said.
Gen. Albayalde, the Journal Group learned, has written Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to explain the PNP position on the matter raised by Sec. Lorenzana last November 22 when he requested the House of Representatives to support a proposed Unified Military and Uniformed Services Personnel (MUP) Separation, Retirement and Pension Bill crafted by an inter-agency Technical Working Group led by the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Treasury.
“The PNP acknowledges the need to address the ballooning funding requirements needed to support payments for the separation, retirement and pension of MUP. As such, the PNP supports the thrust of the administration to introduce reforms that will ensure a sustainable MUP separation, retirement and pension system,” said Gen. Albayalde in his letter, a copy of which was acquired by the Journal Group.
“However, it is the position of the PNP that the proposed reforms under the bill should not be contrary to the Constitution and well-entrenched public policies, such as the prospective application of laws; non-diminution of existing benefits by reason of new laws; and the liberal approach towards social legislation,” Gen. Albayalde told the two top lawmakers.
On this note, the PNP submitted the following comments and recommendations for consideration of the House of Representatives:
First, it said that in general, laws are applied prospectively, not retroactively. “Even curative laws -- or those enacted to cure defects in a prior law--are now always given retroactive application. For one, they must not go against the Constitution and for another, they cannot impair vested rights,” the PNP leadership said.
Second, it said that ‘even though public office is a public trust, civil service employees -- such as PNP uniformed personnel--are also beneficiaries under the constitutional provision affirming labor as a primary social economic force and mandating the State to protect the rights of workers in both the private and public sector and to promote their welfare.
Third, the PNP said that ‘Further, rights are vested when the right to its employment, present or prospective, has become the property of some particular person or persons as a present interest and where such right is absolute, complete and unconditional, or independent of a contingency.”
(To be continued)